Global madness

Television anchor Edward R. Murrow is credited with this expression: “Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn’t mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.” Murrow understood the power of television to misinform the masses. This strategy has worked brilliantly on every front, but none more pronounced than the all-important issue of global climate change. Seeking “balance” on the idiot box means presenting two sides to a one-sided issue until it’s too late to address the crisis.

It’s too late. By the end of June 2012, the U.S. had witnessed its hottest 12 months and hottest half year on record. Extreme events have arrived: “The kind of blistering heat we used to experience once every 20 years, will now occur every two.”

Even as the sun cools, record high temperatures exceeded record low temperatures by a ratio of 2:1 in the last decade, relative to an expected ratio of 1:1. The ratio hit 9:1 in 2012.

Even mainstream scientists writing in Science have finally noticed that ocean acidification threatens all marine life with near-term extinction. In the very near future, coral reefs will disappear. Think of the deprivation we’ve brought to the world as we rape, pillage, and plunder Earth’s glorious bounty for a few extra dollars with which to purchase food high fructose corn syrup that’s killing us and toys that titillate. Deniers take note: “Recent warming of the top 2300 feet of the ocean alone corresponds to an energy content of more than one Hiroshima atomic bomb detonation every second over the past 40 years.” This “remarkable warming can only be explained with man-made greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to fancy sensors, those greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for a temperature increase of about 1 C in New England since the beginning of the industrial revolution (graphical depiction is here). The plants paint a considerably direr story, indicating average temperature in the region has increased 2.4 C during the same period. If you trust plants more than human sensors, as I do, this single statistic is sufficient to induce despair.

Climate chaos is only a small part of the big story, though it is among the phenomena poised to cause our extinction within a single human generation. In addition to triggering climate chaos, we’ve initiated the Sixth Great Extinction, and we revel in its acceleration as one more sign of progress. Furthermore, we continue to ratchet up the madness of human-population overshoot on an overpopulated, overheated, increasingly depauperate planet. Environmental degradation proceeds apace as we gleefully trade in living soil for smart phones, clean air for fast computers, potable water for high-definition televisions, healthy food for industrial poison, contentment for exhilaration, decent human communities for hierarchical death camps, and life for death.

All the while, we take truth-tellers to task while looking to corrupt governments for leadership. Truth is treason in an empire of lies, so we don’t protest governments that spy on their citizens and then kill them. The people, largely convinced they are consumers instead of citizens, keep seeking guidance from the television and nourishment from GMO-tainted faux food, all while seeking happiness from exhilaration instead of introspection.

My heart aches to the breaking point. Industrialized humans are destroying every aspect of the living planet with all the joy one would expect from homicidal maniacs. We don’t think about what we’re doing. If we did, we wouldn’t. Or perhaps, driven by a culture of madness promoted by our contemporaries, we would.

I’m guilty, too, of course. Walking away from empire doesn’t mean I’ve done enough to terminate the omnicidal set of living arrangements known as industrial civilization. As I’ve written before, “I’m afraid of change, fearful to cash in my chips. But I’m afraid to stay, too. The thought of continuing to stare, alone, at the world of wounds, causes the terror to rise in me. Afraid to let go of nature’s bounty, as if it’s mine to hold. Afraid what I’m missing by holding onto comfort.”

Haunted by the wonder and beauty of nature and fully recognizing my efforts as insufficient, bitterness nearly overshadows my overwhelming, debilitating sadness. How could I have been be so self-absorbed? What irreparable damage have I wrought?

Curse your television. Then shoot it. It’s not much, and it’s too little, too late. But it’s a therapeutic start to a much-needed revolution.

I feel nature slipping out of my grasp as we rush to destroy every species on Earth. With no decent solutions, my mind wanders between sadness and madness, between reality and the despair induced therein. Is it possible for a scientist to die from a broken heart?

What a way to go.

If silence is the perfect music, then we’re about to have the (musically) perfect planet. But I doubt we’ll be pleased with the silence as we slip, one by one, into the abyss of unconsciousness.


This essay is permalinked at Seemorerocks, Plan B Economics, Counter Currents, Doomstead Diner, and — in edited form — The Refreshement Center.

Comments 123

  • That was beautiful. Please don’t die of a broken heart. Nature is strong and will survive. I take solace in the tiny things I do to give comfort to nature, feeding birds, worms and slugs, planting flowers adored by bees.

  • While your despair is palpable, please know that you are reaching a larger audience by the day. You are making a difference. I was introduced to you through your website only one week ago and I appreciate your teaching and role modeling. Thank you!

  • I suspect it’s all true, but still, we keep going – talking to people, writing, communicating even in the knowledge that it’s all futile – not because it’s smart, not even because it’s right — but because it’s who we are. And if one person makes it through a bit longer or a bit better for what we have done then it’s probably worth while. What – you got something better to do with your time?

  • I wonder if we’re really the right species for this job.
    Also, I wonder what the job is…
    I used to think I knew all this stuff.

  • Guy: Thank you so much for this. I feel the same way but I haven’t been able to leave academe yet. I still hold on to my nursing students as the future. I teach a course I fought three years for permission to teach – Climate Change and Health. The students told my dean that all students in our university should be required to take it. Won’t happen, of course. But my real life happens at my husband’s and my organic farm 40 minutes from town. I’m keeping a foot in both worlds until I can make the move that you did. I follow your blog, plus Dan Bednarz blog, “Health After Oil” and a lot of others.

    I have one nit to pick. I believe the price of oil will fall, not rise. In my defense, I invite you to consider this from Nicole Foss, of the Automatic Earth.

    “I see decline unfolding much more quickly that expansion did, although I don’t see us falling all the way to the bottom in one episode. My view is that we will see various stages of collapse, like going over a series of cliffs, with intervening periods of partial recovery (with considerable variation between places depending on local circumstances).

    The socioeconomic complexity that has developed during the bubble era, largely as a result of high EROEI conventional fossil fuels, cannot be maintained once those are no longer available. Although they are not going to disappear overnight, access to them could be compromised quickly given that access relies on a functioning economy. When bubbles burst, finance become the key driver to the downside, since changes in the financial sphere unfold so much more quickly than changes in supply and demand in the real world.

    We are on an accelerating treadmill with regard to energy and would have to run faster and faster just to avoid being flung off the back. If EROEI falls by a factor of ten, production would have to rise by a factor of ten just to keep supplying the same demand (ie to stand still). This would require our ponzi financial system to go on expanding in order to keep the necessary liquidity flowing, and this is not going to be possible. Of course the complicating factor is that demand will change as well. Supply and demand for energy in the real world will interact in complex, non-linear ways with the dynamics of the financial world and collective human psychology (ie herding behaviour). The psychology of contraction is a very powerful force leading to self-fulfilling prophecies to the downside. Trust evaporates and people pull away from each other, disabling larger scale endeavours.

    Financial collapse (cascading system failure as our JIT systems unravel) will drive simplification, depriving us of the ability to get back on the treadmill at a later date. That’s not to say we wouldn’t be able to achieve anything, but that we will not be able to achieve anything like what we were used to. What energy we do have access to will be considered much more valuable than it is today (when it is taken for granted).

    For the relatively few people lucky enough to maintain access to liquidity, the falling price deflation will mean things will become more affordable. (Of course if the lucky people do nothing to prepare for the next stage they are going to be in for a shock down the line.) For the majority, who will lose access to liquidity, things will become less affordable even as prices fall, because their purchasing power will be falling faster than prices. This is why I tell people to hold liquidity if at all possible. Even a small amount could make a very big difference in a future where the money supply has collapsed. Liquidity represents freedom of action.

    In the future we are going to realize how truly exceptional our period of history has been. Everything we thought was normal was the result of a huge energy subsidy amplified by the largest financial bubble in human history. We are going to have to adjust to a radically different new normal in the relatively near future, and we are not going to like it. There’s nothing so addictive as freedom, and the loss of access to money and energy is going to deprive us of much of that.”

    Thank you so much for writing.

  • I grieve with you, Guy. Most days I feel like I am in mourning – for our scarred and battered earth, for our poisoned oceans, for all of the creatures we have obliterated through our greed and our arrogance. Who will forgive us?

  • Guy says: “Is it possible for a scientist to die from a broken heart?”

    Anyone’s heart can go bust
    In a world that’s unfair and unjust,
    But with science we see
    The way things have to be,
    And how they proceed as they must.

  • Just seen this article at :”U.S. Abrupt Climate Change 2012″ and:
    :”Abrupt Climate Change Is Now

    Fundamentally the meaning of life is ecosystems. Without a healthy, intact, diverse and operational environment, humanity and all life simply cannot exist. As a result of the human ecocidal system of industrial growth, local ecosystems are being destroyed globally for insatiable human consumption. Life of every sort – including Gaia, the Earth system herself, is dying.”

    I agree with Guy when you realise the death we have inflicted on the on the natural world and on our own kind as well ( Wars, economic exploitation of poor people…)and the symbol of all this the Nuclear Bomb, it’s enough to break your heart for ever.

  • Great, GREAT, piece Guy. I couldn’t find “depauperiate” in my Webster’s “New Lixicon” edition…, but I get it. Here on The Ranch we are one of the only places not experiencing extreme temps (yet) or lack of rainfall (yet). We will carry on with as much style as we can. We have the hay put for the horses are keeping the dogs fat.., I reassure the little dogs that we will eat them last !!!! I still think that the Pacific Northwest…, if not Canada or Alaska…, is the place to make a stand. And you are forever welcome to stand here with us. Right on partner…, write on.

  • Despair for the loss of just one beloved creature (human or otherwise) can sometimes seem to be more than a person can bear. Yet that same loss of a loved one means nothing to a stranger. Why do we cry no tears for the massacre of millions of innocent humans and other animals in the stories told throughout history? Distance, it seems, is important for our emotional survival; distance physically, emotionally, and temporally. Can you imagine how ineffective I would be as a physician if, whenever a patient died, I suffered as much with that one as I did when my father died? Because I don’t fall apart, I’m able to provide solace and comfort to those who loved that person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care but rather that I’ve been able to distance myself sufficiently so that I can function and move on.

    Whenever I see an animal dead on the road (multiple times a day), I grieve. But, I keep my emotional distance and realize that life goes on. Like you, Guy, my heart breaks when I consider what we’ve done and are doing to this incredibly beautiful big blue marble. My wound is even deeper when I consider that there’s nothing I can do about it. But, I take comfort in knowing that in a million years, it’s quite likely that this planet will be teeming with all sorts of incredibly diverse life which is oblivious to the destruction we caused.

    Yes, we are leaving one of the worst scars ever visited on this planet. But, it too will pass. In time, everything we are and the crimes against nature which we’ve committed will disappear, not even a blip on the timeline of the cosmos.

  • Yes. Absolutely yes.

  • Indeed a beautiful lament on mankind’s predicament, a predicament shared without acquiescence by so many fellow species.

    Among the reasons that insects did not dominate is their structure. Their respiratory systems consist of a network of air tubes called tracheae, through which gases diffuse to reach all parts of their bodies. The efficiency (or lack thereof) of diffusion limits the size of their bodies and their organs. Similar restrictions are found in other invertebrates. Even the gills of fish are relatively inefficient in gas exchange when compared to lungs: that is why the largest aquatic creatures are cetaceans, air-breathing mammals. Big brains require a vertebrate-type circulatory system and lungs.

    But let us imagine that after Man, some surviving life-form evolves to a level of intelligence comparable to, or even surpassing ours. And then let us imagine that they are facing the death of the sun, when in its terminal phases it expands to engulf and incinerate the Earth. 

    What would be the essay one writes as a message to those beings at that time?

    Alan Watts on Death

  • … fully present…

  • Guy

    I have read only a small proportion of your writings. It appears that now you are expressing more of the poet than the scientist.

    You have no effect on the planet, and that is a humiliating and devastating insult, but as you strive to actually do something, and communicate the ‘Global Madnees’, as you have, you exhaust the rational options and finally reach the place where you are.

    Now others can hear the wound.

    Your love of life, is not in the mind it is in your heart, and it is only in the heart you can truly express the power of that love.

    People hear that.

    You have upheld the highest Aquarian ideals of humanity:
    that we are all human,
    we share this finite zone of habitation,
    with all beings.

    The scientist has opened the way, and will no doubt still be needed.
    But the poet in you can reach further through the noise of the ‘global madness’, and that wound is what needs to be awakened in all.

    Your worldwide ‘neighbours’ hear you, and feel you.

  • BC Nurse Prof

    In my own self appointed role of statistical nit picker:

    “If EROEI falls by a factor of ten, production would have to rise by a factor of ten just to keep supplying the same demand (ie to stand still).”

    Not true (in general). Imagine EROIE falls from 100 to 10.

    Initially had to invest 1 barrel to get 100 back. Net gain = 99 barrels.

    After EROEI has fallen have to invest 10 barrels of oil to get 100 back. Net gain = 90 barrels.

    To get the same net gain of 99 barrels production would have to increase by 10%, not by a factor of 10.

  • I think you have really found your voice in this essay – very stirring and powerful.

    It seems our myopic vision prevents us from seeing the larger picture of the wholesale destruction we are causing to earth. We simply cannot fathom that our numbers and influence have become a planet altering force leaving an environment that will no longer nurture and support us, but turn on us and rip us to shreds. The Pandora’s box has been opened and there is no turning back.

  • In case anyone would accuse me of deliberately understating the importance of EROEI, if EROEI wwere fo fall from 10 to 1, an infinte increase in production would not suffice.

  • When I left home to go to university, I took the conscious decision to leave my television behind (even though I had been quite a tv addict before) and today, twenty years later, I think that this was the point that changed my life. I am sure many other decisions I made, people I met and experiences I had had important influence on who I am today as well, but getting rid of the television was my first conscious step away from the mainstream culture and towards a stronger connection with the real world around me.

    Something similar happened when I got rid of my car many years later. I have been living car free for eight years now, the last one and a half years in a pretty remote small town setting. I have a six mile commute to work which I do by bike (rain is not your enemy … wind is ;) )

    Our messed up situation today is of course way too complex to find simple explanations for it, but if I were to name two technologies or inventions that really got us into trouble, I would name those two: television as the most poisonous and influential channel of propaganda and the car (not the combustion engine per se, mind you, even though that does suck on many levels, but the idea of individual high energy travel … moving a ton of steel around just to get your ass from point a to point b is absurd, no matter if you power this by burning oil or by electricity or any other energy source)

    I am not saying we can remedy the world’s problems by simply not driving and not watching television any longer … but without tv and cars, we wouldn’t be where we are today and getting rid of those two addictions (for that is what they are) on a personal level truely changes your perspective on things.

  • Dmitry Orlov has a timely essay this morning, and it includes this tidbit: “So, how is life in the human blight zone working out for you? Isn’t the ‘civilized’ living arrangement starting to seem a bit problematic? The corn crop (which is where Americans get most of their calories) is in the process of getting torched by a record heat wave, caused by global warming, in turn caused by burning fossil fuels which are a key element of life in the human blight zone.”

  • For what it’s worth, I keep starting a response, and then deleting it, thinking, “this is none of my business.”

    I’m not sure why exactly I feel that way.

  • At least I’m not the only grief-stricken one. It’s the least we can do, to grieve such terrible loss. I welcome it as a decent human response, anguishing though it is.

  • As a person who is actively following a plan to end his life, I read most of the comments here as maudlin and/or out-of-touch in the same vein as the empty compassion and faked attention I have received from mental health professionals who have ignored my pleas for help over the last 16 months. I am in the stage where I am very happy and cheery to cover up the plan as I go about selling and giving away everything I own … and NO ONE f*****g notices. It is a fantastic comment on the depth of TV trance, bread and circuses, beer and hockey to deaden the lumpen-prole masses.

    All the above comments about grieving and sorrow feel to me superficial and hollow as I crave the taste of gun-metal in my mouth and long for the sweet smell of gun oil with the tiny acrid hint of cordite primer traces and can hardly wait for the magnum load of “OO” buckshot to reduce my brain to pink mist once my preparations are complete.

    It is interesting the degree of what I call “awareness in denial” present in the comments at this blog in general, not just today but over-all. What I mean by this is despite all the awareness displayed here and the actions many of you are taking, there is still a basic denial of how actually horrible and degraded things will become (and already are).

    DR HOUSE: If we release all the carbon we could release (and it looks to me like we will) we will reduce the planet to another Venus supporting only heat-loving anaerobic bacteria. There will be NO life revival reunion in a million years.

    SCOTT R SPENCE: The Pacific Northwest? 9.8 magnitude earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami, intensification of damp, cold rainy conditions (and resultant mudslides – two in BC in one week, one killed four), all your veggies rotting in the mud, your animals dieing from hypothermia, no dry firewood, giant mutated carnivorous slugs? Same for Alaska. The Canadian Prairies will become desert, the arboreal forest a fire-storm, Ontario and Quebec hot, humid heat-death zones and the Maritime Region wracked with increasingly violent storms. There is NO safe place.

    And Blessed Are The Nitpickers Who Bring Glory and Attention Unto Themselves Through The Tiny Act Of Pointing Out EVERY F*****G Typo.

    It is not just we are killing the biosphere, we kill everything. New research shows the vast majority of teen suicides are committed by those considered “gifted.” Worse, barely 3 to 5% of gifted children who survive to adulthood attain any level of success or fulfilment. Most succumb to addiction, crime, suicide, mental illness, poverty, disease. After all, it is far easier for business to exploit and control 100 drudges than a single genius. I should know – my life was destroyed by the “genius” classes I was forced to attend as a child and teen. I have had all the above except the crime and now I seek the peace of self-annihilation.

    As a sensitive genius I could see all this years ago. Even before I was of breeding age (I am now 57) I knew I did not want to bring children into this dieing world to be exploited as wage-slaves, dumbed down by popular culture and abused by every two-bit narcissist with a nano-erg of extra power.

    We are a sick, sick species which has created a social structure which supports the care and feeding of psychopaths and their authoritarian agents. Yet I NEVER hear a discussion of the basic psychology behind our current state. The death of the biosphere is simply the logical and predictable end result of allowing hollow, empty power-hungry narcissists and psychopaths to rule. In indigenous societies psychopaths were executed because they were too dangerous to allow to have influence in the tribe. Now we cheer for them at political rallies. We can seen the enemy and it is US!

    There is always a lot of talk that “community” is the way to go but I see the same sick species and the same sick structure in microcosm in Eco-villages and intentional communities. (research the history of the communal movement to see abuses and crimes committed by charismatic psychopath leaders and be shocked) I looked very deeply into this and did not go in this direction for three reasons. First, these arrangements are basically alternative gated communities for the upper and upper-middle classes seeking to ameliorate their guilt and pretend to be “green” while they spend their excessive earnings on a retirement option – I could not afford to buy in to even the least expensive. (Guy could not have bought his mud hut arrangement had it not been for his brass ring – in North America most people are poor and live in cities remember)

    Second, even if I was moneyed I would still be rejected because I am an Atheist and a Meat Eater. The ideology of the Vegetarian Perma-culture Eco-village (as far as I could see) would rather truck in (organic) GMO soybeans from at least 2000 kilometres away than raise a few pigs and chickens. I am a carpenter, electrician, plumber, hunter, hide-tanner, horse wrangler along with scores of other minor skills and abilities picked up from a childhood on the farm and a life in the trades (plus the curse of my genius-plus IQ) and this is of NO VALUE because I am not “spiritual” and my individual metabolism requires large amounts of high quality protein. Vegetarianism is just another religion which leaves no room for individual differences.

    Third, I just couldn’t stomach joining a club which is merely a mirroring of our existing culture complete with no room for individual differences, a dependence on ideology rather than evidence and common sense, PLUS the INSANITY of a consensus process which requires two years to even DECIDE to build a woodshed (in one example) which I could build with the help of a retarded monkey in about two days. If the consensus process prevents coming to a conclusion on a wood-shed for two years or prevents agreement on what colour to paint the rec-room floor for SEVEN years (in another example) then how are they going to be able to make useful and timely decisions when TSHTF. (much to their surprise they will be forced to disband and re-group … if they survive at all) These are the conclusions I came to from researching and visiting Eco-village intentional communities in Western Canada. (read The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler for a fictional account of gated community hubris during a collapse – EXCELLENT book)

    The local Transition Town movement and Food Security Alliance are self-congratulatory clubs consisting of well-off retired idle women who have their meetings during the day when skilled men are off working. The groovy, cool, eco-green, newage, Mediterranean island I live on off the west coast of Canada produces less than 5% of its own food (but is known for wine production giving it the most expensive agricultural land IN THE WORLD and don’t forget the equestrian estates and the golf courses) while the stripping of the land base and the construction of retirement communities and new roads continues unabated even in these difficult economic times. As always there is the lip service to “green” and “eco” but every body drives a brand new SUV and a local recycling facility proposed to be built was defeated by a NIMBY movement.

    The collapse phenomenon I would fear the most (if I was sticking around) is the waves of angry, disenfranchised, dismissed, sissified, feminized, castrated, woman-taught, uninitiated, mommy-coddled, screen-deadened teen-aged boys who will arise from their basement lairs angry, starving and HORNY after a life of being feminized, watching violent internet pornography and playing violent video games. If you can find a copy of A Boy and His Dog, a seventies science fiction film based on a story by Harlan Ellison you will see a terrifying depiction of these boys using dogs to track and hunt women for the purpose of rape.

    Enough of my disjointed rambling. I’m off into the Silent Sweet Void in about three weeks after my preparations are completed. Yee-Haa!!!

    Keep ’em flying; keep on denying.

  • What an incandescent, heartfelt piece, Guy!

    As others have said, I hear you. I entered this swirling, contracting world of grief and despair through my own version of the scientist’s door a while ago. It is an insupportable, unsurvivable place so long as one keeps looking for answers to the questions in the same terms they are posed in.

    There is a door out, but it’s orthogonal to the plane of the problem set. As a result many may not be able to locate it – or use it if they do find it. This door out leads away from the materialist frame and into subtler realms – into the realm of spirit, if one is to be blunt.

    I had a very hard time finding that door and opening it due to my deeply programmed materialistic worldview, but now I think it’s the only realistic response. There are as many variations on this theme as there are people in the world, so at least there is enough room out here for everyone.


  • Altermego,

    I was contemplating taking the same route. In the end I decided to find another path, but I know where your desire comes from. Oddly enough, when I look back on the path I did choose, it involved its own kind of death – the death of all my previous values and who I was. I know that probably sounds weak-kneed and pusillanimous to someone who has plans to eat a gun barrel, but we each get to choose the kind of death we need.

  • Altermego:

    Why are the preparations necessary?

  • To: Curtis A Heretic
    Despite my despair I AM a considerate person and I do not want to leave a mess for someone to clean up. Furthermore I have one monetary debt I want to close. It is called “settling one’s affairs.” Plus, since this is the result of a life-long metaphysical crisis rather than a reactionary tantrum I, in my last moments, get to shape my last moments.

    Many, many suicides settle their affairs, tie up loose ends, provide for their families (with insurance for example), come to a place of completeness and finality before the final deed. The really crazy thing is that no one EVER notices these changes in behaviour (selling and giving away what they own) until AFTER the corpse is cold.

    Since suicide is NEVER discussed in our media or our communities people never get a chance to investigate or understand what suicide is.

    Statistics are very hard to come by for Canada but in Australia where some discussion is underway, it seems suicide accounts for more deaths than homicide and road deaths COMBINED. It is also the leading cause of death for teenagers, for women 20 to 35 and for men 45 to 65. And NO ONE EVEN KNOWS this is the situation. Hence your understandable ignorance of the subtle variations in the suicidal act.

    The important distinction to make is between a reasoned response to a existential dilemma versus a reactionary tantrum. The person who has lived with intolerable pain for a considerable period who decides to end it all one can assume has made a rational decision. The love-sick moron who ends his life because his girlfriend dumped him is the real tragedy.

    By the way, suicide is also the leading cause of death for farmers in many third world countries.

    Hope that helps expand your understanding.


  • Alter, a woman I knew briefly did the same thing – a long-planned, low-fuss exit. She’d had the gun for 20 years, and apparently bought it for that one shot.

    I took a week-long residential retreat with her, one that was focused on personal liberation and self-realization. None of us, including the retreat leader who had known her for years, saw what was about to happen out in a park just a month later.

    We all fancy ourselves to be transparent. We imagine that everyone can see our thoughts and feelings, and that the only reason others don’t respond is because they’re stupid, insensitive or blind. It ain’t true. On some level every man (and woman) is an island. If you don’t use your outside voice, you can’t blame others for failing to hear your message.


  • To: Paul Chefurka
    The flaw in your argument seems to be your assumption that those who want to die, especially as the result of a long-term existential crisis, is that they would be saved if they only would speak up. It is a combination of the suicide being a bit deceptive and appearing as if all is well with the general self-centred blindness (of denial than anything could be wrong) of those around the suicide not noticing she is cheerfully giving away her life-long prized possessions. In fact it seems the main theme of this blog that most people cannot or will not see what is right in front of their faces.

    Perhaps you recall that in my original post I have been pleading for help with the mental health service here for SIXTEEN MONTHS to no avail. I saw the crisis coming to a head 2 years ago and thought perhaps mental health intervention might be an appropriate last chance to help me deal with the existential pain I have had all my life. I HAVE spoken – NO ONE HAS LISTENED.

    “If you don’t use your outside voice, you can’t blame others for failing to hear your message” notion is typical of the denial we find around suicide in our culture and amounts to “blame the victim.” The same-old “he was weak, had no character, didn’t try hard enough, didn’t ask for help, had a bad attitude, etc, etc.” is just denial, blame the victim bullshit.

    As I said I have spoken for SIXTEEN MONTHS and I have been brushed off by everyone. It is as if they simply cannot hear or simply cannot take seriously an educated, articulate, apparently healthy man sitting up straight looking them in the eye saying he CANNOT TAKE THE SHIT ANYMORE. Denial of suicide is part of our cultural avoidance of anything not “bread and circuses, beer and hockey” just as much as denial of climate disruption is.

    I am loathe to suggest psychological insight on a web forum but perhaps this discussion is touching something unresolved within YOURSELF which you need to project onto my situation??? It is interesting that in one breath you can say you “know where your desire comes from” and in the next blame this woman for not speaking up.

    Now watch this turn into a slanging match.

  • There is a door out, but it’s orthogonal to the plane of the problem set. As a result many may not be able to locate it – or use it if they do find it. This door out leads away from the materialist frame and into subtler realms – into the realm of spirit, if one is to be blunt.

    it involved its own kind of death – the death of all my previous values and who I was.

    Indeed. That is why the Zen tradition refers to the “Great Death” as distinguished from the “little death”. The latter occurs in plain sight, and is readily recognised and understood: it is everyone’s – shall we say – destiny, and the regular commenters here have said as much. It is an end for the vehicle and its driver. The witness to it all remains unwitnessed.

  • Altermego

    Everything you say is true…and I don’t even have anything “big” to say to you that may get you to reconsider. Even still, We’re all gonna end up dead someday. Your words moved me in deep dark way, and brought comfort in that I am not the only one who feels as we do. No one can know what they have or will bring to this world, and some of it is worth saving.


  • (Poem #150) Resume
    Razors pain you;
    Rivers are damp;
    Acids stain you;
    And drugs cause cramp.
    Guns aren’t lawful;
    Nooses give;
    Gas smells awful;
    You might as well live.
    — Dorothy Parker

    OTOH for terminal patients who don’t live where doctor assisted suicide is available, Derek Humphrey has created a do it yourself solution
    We hold that mentally competent adults have a basic human right to end their lives under the following conditions:
    they suffer from a fatal or irreversible illness or intractable pain,
    they judge that their quality of life is unacceptable to them,
    they judge that their future is hopeless.”

  • We must remember that the responsible parties for the widespread death of the world are indeed sociopaths(and we must deal with them accordingly), and that the industrial infrastructure which these people support and continue to push for is what is responsible for the majority of ecological collapse. My efforts might be insufficient, and i am deeply sad, for at least many hours per week. but I am not yet bitter, because i am, and we are working on creating a set up for bringing industrial infrastructure down. I think we might have a decent solution.


    visit us at:

  • Altermego:

    Thank you for a clear and serious answer.

  • Yes, I considered suicide once. Then I read a study that said said the offspring of those who commit suicide have a much higher chance of doing the same thing. “If Mom thought this was a good way out, then it would be a good way out for me, too.” I couldn’t do that to my offspring. I considered it too selfish.

    Personally, I’m rooting for the extremophiles. Maybe they can do a better job with this planet than we have.

    And don’t think that if we could just get rid of all of the evil people, all would be fine; that it’s only a few psychopaths; that most people are good. We ALL carry the genes that have caused, and continue to cause, greed, murder, torture, rape, species extermination, and the death of the planet. We all have to go. And good riddance, I say.

    “Corruption is merely a nasty word for the autumn of a people.” Neitzsche

  • Robin,

    Yes, exactly.


    In my experience those who say to a professional, “I intend to commit suicide in the immediate future. Here is the reason, here are the means I have chosen, and here are the preparations I am making,” don’t get brushed off. Two people I know (both educated and articulate) went that route, and lived because of intervention. One, also educated and articulate, I know for sure didn’t say anything, and died. The difference I saw was the the first two actually wanted to live, and the third did not. Perhaps your experience is different from mine.

    I don’t think I’ll say any more on this topic though, out of respect for Guy and the other participants.

  • OK all this discussion of suicide is for the current world we live in. When collapse and climate change get going, humanity will probably go extinct and if not huge dieoffs (maybe 90% or more) will occur. Guy and others expect this to begin in the near future. If nothing is done some climate scientists think that human extinction will be complete in 40 years. Suicide takes on a whole different dimension. Ah if we kill ourselves our children might too? Well maybe they would want to for other reasons such as also escaping the really really bad stuff. The world we are facing is NOT this world. Its going to be unendurable for many, and even those who survive longer will not survive in the end, as we all die. But no one is going to be surviving any time at all if we go extinct.

    Guy isn’t kidding when he says “Climate chaos is only a small part of the big story, though it is among the phenomena poised to cause our extinction within a single human generation” as he has said the same thing many times in several essays. Only hopeful news is that industrial civilization might collapse in time to save some species and perhaps even a few ideally located and resourceful humans. Maybe the Libor scandal will erode enough trust to bring this all down. It is not going to be pretty, its going to be pretty horrifying and thus I post the Final Exit site for anyone who doesn’t have the stomach for rape, rampage, war, nuclear plants going critical, starvation, etc.

    I am amazed that the denial still goes on such that the first time the word extinction comes up after Guy’s essay is my comment. You don’t have to agree with Guy or myself, but geez at least try to challenge it rather than read over the words and talk about other stuff.

    Rant over.

  • Sorry, I realize my post is not accurate in the sense that extinction, while not verbalized, seems to be at the backs of the minds of many. So I am being unfair to this group, but reacting to the denial all around me which is so much more extensive and profound.

  • Here is some madness
    I don’t know how much others have been following what is happening at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. In order to get more energy out of the plant they redesigned the plant to have more of the tubes that carry the radioactive water to heat exchange in the generators. More tubes closer together has resulted in vibrations and wear. The ones with the most wear have been plugged. In unit 3 807 have been plugged. In unit 2 510 have been plugged. In the rest of the country the next largest number plugged is 108, then 35 and on down. Despite having had problems with so many more tubes due to the faulty redesign, they want to start up unit 2. Rational, “Edison maintains that San Onofre Unit 2 should be allowed to restart because it has a steam generator that is better than the one in San Onofre Unit 3. Fairewinds notes, however, that the Unit 2 steam generators would be the worst in the nation except that San Onofre Unit 3 has earned that dubious distinction.” In other words the rational is that since Unit 2 is not as bad as Unit 3 it should start up EVEN though it is 5 times worse than the next one down the list. Madness

    More at and fairewinds dot org is a good reliable site for news on Fukushima, and other nuclear plants as well – run by Arnie Gunderson, a former nuclear power plant exec.

  • The ways to self fulfilment define the person. A very few from the extremes may gain notoriety (in the old sense of both good and bad): in some cases the notoriety itself is a part of self-fulfilment. But most who have substantial and sustaining horizontal interactions of community do not have to seek elsewhere for self-fulfilment. Sadly, NBL is unlikely to make up for a shortfall in real life. 

  • To Kathy C:
    So sorry for appearing to have hijacked the thread. I must have misread Guy’s post. I got the impression it was about despair and extinction was mentioned. So I foolishly shared a bit about my despair. If the post was about extinction and despair was mentioned, then I am in TOTAL agreement with you Kathy C.

    B.C. Nurse: you made me laugh out loud stating your support of the extremophiles – my sentiments exactly. I also agree it is not just a few psychopaths. They are merely the agency through which our human maladaptiveness is expressed. We are all guilty, as you say, and ALL carry the genes, etc which cause us to be such dispicable organisms. This is what I meant when I said we are a sick species. “We all have to go. And good riddance, I say.” I agree fully. My personal existential despair has been amplified by the horror that we are going to likely exterminate all complex life on the only planet we know of in the Universe which can support complex life. THIS is the greater tragedy far transcending my pathetic despair or difficulty. For a while I thought it might be amusing to stick around and see how things unfolded but I can’t even stand to live any more in this culture let alone in the unimaginable horror and degradation which faces us all in the very near term.

    As I mentioned in my side-note to Dr House, we will turn this planet into another Venus. We have triggered all the tipping points – methane release from melting tundra and oceanic methane calthrates – and are long, long past the point of no return. I have read all the links to extinction which Guy has posted and much, much more. So don’t forget that ocean death from anoxea will also release not only huge amounts of additional methane but also possibly enough Sulpher Dioxide (sour gas), deadly at parts per trillion, to exterminate any creature depending on oxygen metabolism. This was the cause of one of the previous Great Extinctions according to Peter Ward as explicated in his book “Under A Green Sky.”

    Extinction it is and the sooner the better. Long Live Extinction.

  • My heart aches as well. You aren’t alone in this struggle.

    The state of the world is getting worse every day as the rate of extinctions keep going up, the temperatures keep going up, and the healthy land keeps getting eaten up by industry (Here where I live the mountains are disappearing in the name of copper mostly to be used for electricity, including so called “green” energy. The star on the Arizona flag stands for copper mines…every time I see that flag I feel despair and anger). I read that the carbon dioxide levels in the arctic hit 400 ppm for the first time recently. And I could keep going, adding to this list you already made in your blog. Throwing out the tv is a good first step, but we need to take so many more steps to stop the destruction.

    In my opinion, we can’t afford to walk away and leave this system to destroy the planet. We are in need of serious political change, change that puts an end to industrial civilization.

    I only know of one group of environmentalists that are working on this kind of change that acknowledges the root of the problem, a radical environmental group called the Deep Green Resistance, based on a book with the same name. Your writing here reminds me of the Deep Green Resistance, here is a excerpt from the DGR book for comparison.

    “So think ‘resistance’ with all your aching heart, a word that must become our promise to what is left of this planet.”

    Note: I discovered your blog today, and will be back to read more in the future. Thanks for writing your blog, we need more people speaking out publicly like this.

  • Sorry – just a little bit more on extinction. Any kind of slow down in industrial output or human energy use from diesel transportation, coal-fired power plants or even dung cooking fires around Asia will reduce the mid-atmosphere umbrella of soot, smoke, ash and other particulate matter which is now cooling the planet and act to speed up Extinction. An especially dramatic economic collapse and/or a plague across Asia reducing this particle output would allow rains to wash it from the sky in a week or two and the few scientists studying this estimate that an almost immediate increase in global average temperatures of at least Two Degrees Celcius would occur. So actually global warming is at least two degrees higher than we have been lead to believe and is held in check by smoke from burning stuff.

    We are happy sailors dancing on a sinking ship.

  • A friend of mine recommended adding this disclaimer to future posts at NBL in light of potential liability:


    Nature Bats Last (“NBL”) is a fictionalized, satirical publication. Its content should in no way be interpreted as an actual record of events, unless a story specifically states that its contents are an actual recording of events. These stories are also not intended to be, nor should they be construed as, attempts to predict the future course of any individual or entity, but should be viewed only as parody. NBL is not associated with any other news service. Names used in NBL stories, unless those of public figures or entities, are fictional, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental, unintentional, and accidental. Any event described in NBL that actually comes to pass should also be considered coincidental, unintentional, and accidental. And pretty damned amazing.

    The content of NBL is of a mature nature and is intended for use by those age 18 and over, and of sound mind.

  • I’m sure I’m not the only one who is hugely enjoying Life at the End of the World.

    I can’t believe how lucky I am to be alive right at this precise moment in history, standing on what feels like the pinnacle of a peak experience, with both the past and the future arrayed all around in full view. Yes, the slopes descend steeply in every direction, but imagine how boring it would be if we were still standing placidly secure on the savanna.

    There is more juice to be sucked from this experience than we can begin to imagine. I’ve realized that I’m done with wallowing, I’m done with despair, I’m done with apologizing for feeling OK about how it’s all unfolding.

    We have ended up here, right where we are. That means that all the forces of the universe – everything from the laws of physics to our own human nature – worked together to bring about this outcome. Given all that, we couldn’t have ended up anywhere else. It’s physically impossible.

    So what are we to make of this, with all the resolute awareness we’ve brought to the table? Should we grieve? Should we dance? Should we throw a wake or a bon voyage party? How about all of the above? But I’ve done my grieving, I know Kubler-Ross by her first name, so you’ll have to excuse me if my garments stay un-rended.

    Now I’m in the mood to celebrate. What a ride it’s been! What a ride is still is, and is yet to become! What a ride – I never would have dreamed such a thing was possible. :-)

  • I agree with you, Paul Chefurka. This snippet is from a presentation I delivered in August 2007: “The odds against any one of us being here are greater than the odds against being a particular grain of sand on all the world’s beaches — no, the odds are much greater than that: they exceed the odds of being a single atom plucked from the entire universe. To quote the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ‘In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I that are privileged to be here, privileged with eyes to see where we are and brains to wonder why.'”

  • From Richard Duncan, author of The New Depression, at CNBC: “If this credit bubble pops, the depression could be so severe that I don’t think our civilization could survive it.”

  • “The Earth has a skin and that skin has diseases, one of its diseases is called man.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

    So let’s hear it for extinction! Thank you for not breeding. Have any of you seen the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement? “May we live long and die out”

  • Are we really a disease? It feels to me like we’re just another critter, with a particular set of qualities. We are neither angels nor demons. We just are.

    “Out beyond ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there.”


  • For the first two million years, humans lived in relative harmony. For the first quarter-million years, Homo sapiens lived in relative harmony. The diseased humans arrived only a few thousand years ago. Let’s not throw out the (evolutionary) baby with the (civilized) bathwater.

  • In Too Smart for Our Own Good Craig Dilworth makes the case that the signs of our current mess can be seen in pretty much all of our history as humans. So while we didn’t mess up to bad for millions of years he makes the case that our downfall was in the cards from the beginning. Whether you agree or disagree it is an interesting read. His concluding chapter “And too Dumb to do anything about it”.

    I used to think we were in the process of making the world safe for our species by so depleting its resources that all our aggression, territoriality, and inventiveness would have to be channeled into just staying alive from day to day. Fukushima and the excess warming that comes once global dimming is removed seem to indicate that if that was our unconscious intent we may have overshot.

  • Guy, yes the disclaimer seems appropriate except if you only allow those of sound mind your blog may go unread :)

  • What happens if we don’t interpret what has happened on our planet in quasi-religious terms? Or in terms of disease or moral failure?

    What happens if we just say, “Well, this is where we are.” Does such acceptance somehow dishonor our cosmic responsibility? Is acceptance less of an expression of the sacred than self-blame? After all, we can’t change who we are, any more than we can travel back into the past and kill our great-great-great-etc grandfathers. Is there something noble about regret?

  • You can take the fate of this ecosystem personally, but it will not take you seriously.

    To think “we” have, or had, control over our fate as a species… is that arrogance or naivete? We are barely brighter than any other “dumb” animal.

    I think we should indict corn, and wheat, for enticement. The microbials in our bodies could be charged with sedition. The beasts of burden bribed us with their milk and domesticated us !!! I shit you not! I swear it on a stack of leaves.

    Damn this ecosystem, and damn Nature for its creation. Humans came from this cesspool. It deserves what it gets.

  • Somebody comes on the blog writing about their intended suicide and accuses others of seeking to draw attention to themselves by pointing out typos. ROFL

    If I wanted to draw attention to myself I can think about better things to write than pointing out a misunderstanding of EROEI to a teacher of climate change (not a typo). Surprised such a “genius” wouldn’t know this.

  • With respect to our planet being turned into another Venus: I guess that’s one possible scenario, particularly if we get stuck in a continuous feedback loop. I haven’t studied climate science to state anything definitely.

    It seems to me that ultimately, there is no more carbon here now than there was at the time the earth cooled the first time around. It may be in a different form or phase, but the amount of carbon is mostly fixed. (I am aware that carbon is the backbone of all organic molecules and that CH4 and CO2 are much more problematic than say C6H12.)

    Due to our “fortunate” location with respect to the Sun, (and I’m sure many other factors of which I’m not aware), the earth’s temperature doesn’t appear to have ever been more than 8° C warmer than it is now. Obviously, that’s not conducive to life as we know it, but certainly a tad bit cooler than Venus. See this wikipedia link: for those temperature data.

    What say you climate scientists?

  • Guy

    Is ther any evidence to suggest that there is going to be any significant differences experienced on land in the two hemispheres?
    The southern hemisphere has way less land mass. Does that mean more precipitation?

    Also Helen Caldicott has stated that with massive nuclear fallout, from Fukushima, or alike, the Northern Hemisphere will be dead, but the southeren H. will not get that much via the atmosphere, but will by ocean, and food sources from same. Does any of that bare on the questions I just asked?
    These are not ‘hope’, or ‘denial’ questions, just clarifications if possible.

  • We will find that if it is a rapid SHTF situation, the ‘chickens’ will run around screaaming for a while, and the government ‘pigs’ will declair Martial Law, and emergency powers. That will mean a period when TPTB military have exclusive access to anyones property and/ resources, eg fuel and vehicles and water, and food!!

    I am planning to stay put for that phase as much as I can. How long that lasts is anyones guess, but I suspect these planners will have worked out how to still trade worldwide, on the remaining oil and gas in much smaller quantities to simply supply their own militaries, and that means it may stay M.Law for a while.

    This may sound silly, and futile, but I’m getting far more potatoes in from now.

  • OZ man, the southern hemisphere has little land and much ocean relative to the northern hemisphere. As a result, the former is much better buffered against warming than the latter. In addition, general circulation patterns favor the southern hemisphere when nuclear power plants — nearly all of which are found in the northern hemisphere — melt down. These are among the reasons Caldicott intends to move her family to the southern hemisphere (Gunderson, too, if I’m not mistaken) and also why Malcolm light gives the southern hemisphere 16 years longer than the northern hemisphere for total extinction.

  • That’s a huge relief.

    But what about ocean currents, isnt there more heat absorbed there?

  • So the angel of Earth went to God and said,
    “My planet has no fluffy white clouds like Venus,
    all my carbon is stuck under the ground in deposits
    of black goo like tar sands and shale.”

    And God said to his angel,
    “Don’t worry, I’ll create an animal that’s smart enough to burn it;
    and dumb enough to burn it all.”

  • Paul – “Is there something noble about regret?” Good question. I think not.

    Navid “I think we should indict corn, and wheat, for enticement. The microbials in our bodies could be charged with sedition. The beasts of burden bribed us with their milk and domesticated us !!! I shit you not! I swear it on a stack of leaves. Damn this ecosystem, and damn Nature for its creation. Humans came from this cesspool. It deserves what it gets.” Good rant.

    We are here now are here because of Darwinian selection, ie we are here because others died before reproduction, while our ancestors died after reproduction. The whole of life not only eventually dies, but its diversity is based on death without reproduction as a means of selection. How many creatures and humans had to die without offspring so that we as a species and as individuals could be the ones who are here now? Thank the stars for that asteroid that knocked out the dinosaurs giving mammals a chance. Or curse them…..take your pick.

  • I discovered this site a couple of weeks ago, though I’ve been clued in to our predicament for about eight years. I grieve for the plundering of the planet, and wonder at our species inability to recognize our place in the biosphere. Clearly sapience is an evolutionary dead end.

    On the other hand, despair is a destructive emotion. At the risk of being pollyanna, the situation is dire, but there is also much that we do not understand. I will continue to hope and work for a better outcome despite the odds. In fact, I find doing something constructive helps me to overcome despondence. What did I do? I jumped off the merry-go-round, left my corporate Manhattan job, and bought a small farm in northern Vermont. It’s now our sixth year of operation growing organic vegetables, and mostly feeding ourselves. I’ve also built three apartments in one of our barns to house like-minded families who wish to contribute to our little enterprise. Oh yes, and I also shot my TV.

    Thanks to Guy for this terrific blog and thanks to participants for your thoughtful and insightful comments. Hang in there.

  • Kathy,

    The pain of birth…

    Suffer the Children (from “Hhe hurting” album)

    And it seems so strange
    That at the end of the day
    Making love can be so good

    But the Pain of birth
    What is it worth
    When it don’t turn out the way it should ?

  • Pale shelter too…

    And “Break it Down Again” (this is what the mother is singing I think- crazy bee-atch ;)

    “say those are my schemes and these are our plans…”

    They make no mention of the beauty of decay – all the love in the world won’t make the rain stop falling…

    Mother LhAO (at us, and with us) and shaking her big leafy head in amusement.

  • Michael in Vermont,

    Before you write off the evolutionary value of sapience you might want to check out the recent writing of George Mobus ( on that issue. His arguments about sapience being a potential fitness trait as our species transits the bottleneck have been quite convincing to me.

  • Sorry, one last one:

    Mad World – many lines in this one should be painfully familiar to many here.


    If you do not prefer their music, please look up the lyrics – Ben-the-Donkey kind of genius.

  • Life comes from life. Only the outer adaptation, or form changes.
    A notochord here, limbs, an eye, a brain, four legs, two legs, ideas, feelings, love.
    Lets not deny what a crazy freakish zillion chance in hell it is we are here. Lets not diminish any dignity and full blown grace we can feel.
    How about some cheers for the best in us.

    The death wish that many adolescents feel, and some act on, is said by some to come from the need for this stage of agonising transformation to die. Leaving childhood, reaching for adulthood and feeling wierd.
    Few moderns have an appropriate ritual to accomplish that, save some college graduation hat throwing, and beer night afterwards.

    We are collectively in that stage of evolution now, and just as we here are crazy with concern about the biosphere and its lifeforms, we have also described the destructive form of the shodow that stalks us. The death machine, which is analogus to what many babyboomers developed and themselves defined in the 1960’s, using up vital ancestral energy(Kidnet energy)as oil , degrading cellular purity,(demineralisation and garbage debris chemicals in cells),all on the eternal party.
    As they have aged, the Boomers have demanded that way of life, so that we all(not absolutly everyone)adopt or aspire to adopt these ways as our own.
    Zip to now, and the collective adolescent is waking up to the shadow that has grown too large, and now consumes its host.

    The only way any humans will survive is if they suffer that death in the outer world, and can make the inner adjustments to mature beyond the gnashings, and self delusions of the adolescent disposition.

    The humility that requires is a development I dare note hope for, but know in my heart is akin to the great qualities of humanity.

    Dare I draw the analogy one step further. The collective adolescent was only let loose after father god and mother Earth were forgotten. It seems that Christianity, with the cultural bias of Platonic dualism, set the stage for a gradual decline in the respect for the Mother Earth. The rise of Science put an end to the rule and suffocation of the Father God.
    At a personal level, many people needed to piss their parients off, or leave fucked up circumstances, of abuse and lack of real love. This was a heathy choice for some individuals, but as an empowered wealthy demogrphic group it has been devastating.
    If it is too late we then have to act the part of helping the dying die.
    How you do that to a planet is an unknown path.
    I will try to help its life form live.
    There is only one life, but many lifeforms.

  • “Clearly sapience is an evolutionary dead end.”

    Says who? Seriously, who is the judge of this?

    I really hope everyone here can get beyond this particular pit of despair.

    Everyone is very disappointed things have not turned out the way “they should.” Some are so pissed off, they are ready to take their ball and go home!!!

    A Crazy person wrote these two posts a few years back – it might be relevant, might not.

  • oops…

    That should have been

    ..ancestral energy(Kidnet energy)as oil .

  • Very tired..
    (Kidney energy)as oil

  • navid

    In the “dealing with disbelief” citation, the language expression sounds very similar to yours…

  • I don’t post on Orlov’s site because it is too much of a pain in the ass to log on.

    This poster person has me puzzled.

    If he was a Viking on Iceland one thousand or so years ago, would he have died instead of leaving his familiar and more convenient lifestyle?

    Why plant yourself at a ground-zero knowing you will not be allowed to not participate?

    Pick your tribes – make sure they look, smell, sound, feel and taste like you. Or, if you prefer, go plant a tent on an ant hill and argue with the ants until you can’t take it anymore and check out.

    William Hunter Duncan said…
    I’ve been learning to live as Miles suggests, and have been making progress. My entire yard is a garden, and I know what wild plants are edible and medicinal. Only my garden surrounds my house, which I’ve not been able to secure income sufficient to maintain. Now, because I have not been participating, and too few think my skills are worthy of support, the elec corp is about to shut off my elec, after which the city will condemn and remove me forcibly from my home, should that be necessary, and it probably will. It is very much illegal to say “I don’t need you” to the machine, and the machine seems poised to destroy me for it.

  • The subject of population control (or lack thereof) is frequently brought up. And though the subject is now moot (in my opinion), still I feel compelled to offer the only solution available. We have two choices:

    1. Manage the birth rate

    2. Manage the death rate.

    People keep talking about managing the birth rate – a worthy thing to do. Have as many children to replace yourself and your partner. Complex, but it can be done. Indeed I can assure you that this HAS been done. Since the early fifties we as a global community have been working quite hard on it, and have made great progress. So when your response to the original question is to suggest people learn to control births, you are already out of date, as most advanced societies are already hard at work at this and many are already maintaining or dropping rates of birth now. So why do you keep going on about it?

    So if we are beginning to manage birth rates, and yet the population is still growing, what is wrong? Well, the answer is we are living longer, and therefore fewer people are dying. The short of it is that have far more people entering the world than we have leaving the world.

    We could use wars, disease, and starvation to help us out, but frankly wars are becoming smaller, diseases are being conquered, and it’s beginning to get harder and harder to starve people out of existence. A good global nuclear war would help, but that has the very really chance of taking too many people too quickly, destroying the entire global infrastructure and as an added problem being way to indiscriminate on the victims – young AND old, Children AND adults.

    So that leaves us in a bit of a quandary, don’t you think? We need to be more selective yet hit the right numbers. The answer perhaps is simple – we could perhaps implement a modification of the old Soylent Green solution (watch the 70s movie or get the gist at Wikipedia). So instead of finding people where you can on an opportunistic basis and convert them to Soylent green to feed an overcrowded world, set up government assisted suicide centres where people are required to go when they are at a certain age, or when they gave been given life without parole sentences, or develop terminal disease, or anything that results in a dead body.

    You could even surround the whole process for the individual with grandeur and celebration, offering each person a gala send-off.

    And in tribute to all the Americans, you could even privatise the whole thing, to bring the costs down and add to the each country’s GDP!

    Is that a solution , or is that a solution!

  • Oz,

    Those posts got me a trip to the local nut-house. What a incredible experience that was – I am the luckiest person alive to have had it.

    I Thank my skeered rabbit(mate), my evenmoreskeered rabbit uncle, and highly-insulated UpperMiddleClass best friend for going over the objections of my more sane relatives and convincing a judge I needed a “vacation.”

    The first night, the shrinks that interviewed me and the nurses who sat watch said they were laughing at me, not with me. They said, “Just stop talking about it.”

  • How can I be sure ?
    When your intrusion is my illusion
    How can I be sure
    When all the time you changed my mind
    I asked for more and more
    How can I be sure

    When you don�t give me love
    You gave me pale shelter
    You don�t give me love
    You give me cold hands
    And I can�t operate on this failure
    When all I want to be is
    Completely in command

    How can I be sure
    For all you say you keep me waiting

  • The voluntary suicide part of the soylent green solution seems pretty good –

    Annual deaths currently in the world 57 million. If we have no births for 10 years and only deaths at current rate in 10 years we will reduce the population by 1/2 billion – so 40 years to reduce it by 2 billion. But 50 years with deaths at current rates and no new births leaves pretty much all remaining females past menopause.

    Or the short of it Victor, is I agree with all you said :)

  • Navid “Clearly sapience is an evolutionary dead end.” Says who? Seriously, who is the judge of this?

    People forget that in evolution the environment is what selects for or against a trait. A trait can be a plus in one environment and a negative if the environment changes. When I use environment I mean what milieu a species lives in. As we know asteroids can change a physical environs. But the rise of a new species can change the “environment” another species lives in, such as the introduction of an invasive species. Sapience clearly was a helpful trait, but unfortunately it has acted stronger on its own environment than most species traits do. What sapience the dolphins or other apes have haven’t had such a large impact and thus have so far helped them rather than harmed them (until our sapience made its full impact that is). Since we don’t know if humans will in fact go extinct we can’t know if this trait as expressed in humans is a dead end or not. It might allow humans to persist in a ravaged world when all is said and done. Depends on how ravaged we make it eh?

    Of course if there turns out to be aliens about who can create crop circles with their space ships we have to conclude that sapience in some species is not a dead end, even if humans go extinct.

    All that said, our sapience looks like it is heading us straight into the dust bin of evolutionary history. If anyone cares to keep going and is able to as the corpses pile up and they make it through the bottleneck with the smell of carnage about – they are welcome to that. They can feel like the pearls of evolutionary selection for their good traits and start to repopulate the world. Surely all the dead bodies, once the stench is gone will re-fertilize the raped and ravaged soils of the world. I hope to be fertilizing from 6 feet under by then because all that death and destruction would drive me mad. It is a good time to be old

  • navid

    Did they medicate you?
    I have a work colleague who has been mmedicated with some shit by injection,( so you wont refuse pills), and he did some online research and found that this shit causes sterilisation, and is banned in California. Is this an attempt at eugenics by stealth?
    Hope you didn’t get any of that shit.
    How did you get out?
    Did you get out?

  • To Paul Chefurka:

    If your wife was being gang-raped right in front of your eyes or your child was being kidnapped out of your yard in front of your eyes or if an arsonist was setting fire to your house in front of your eyes or if aliens were clear-cutting, mining and poisoning our planet in the same way we are would you sit back in your pacifist, nihilistic place and brush it off with “We (my wife, my child, my house, my planet) have ended up here, right where we are. That means that all the forces of the universe – everything from the laws of physics to our own human nature – worked together to bring about this outcome. Given all that, we couldn’t have ended up anywhere else.”??? So given that the rape of your wife or the abduction of your child are a “ride” you would “celebrate?” Give up and walk away? Tell yourself the same BS stories you are telling us here? I doubt it. But you can brush of an entire planetary biosphere with this nihilistic defeatism.

    This is a TOTALLY fallacious argument insofar as it denies two of the primary things we think make us human – free will and the ability to make decisions. It is not some disinterested, brainless cosmic jumble which has brought us to killing our planet – it has been the DECISIONS we have made and NOT made and now you would have your nihilism absolve you and the rest of us of responsibility for those decisions. I am sure you would make decisions and take action in the situations I have described above. (I hope you would otherwise you are a peculiar bit)

    It is intriguing how this discussion has deteriorated from some honest, apparently authentic expressions of despair to infantile gibberish about blaming our intestinal flora for our plight. What species of denialism is that?

    And the poetry, oh the poetry, what is the point of the poetry?

    But in keeping with the drivel and dribble this discussion has deteriorated to here is my contribution:

    We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in the dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed
    With direct eyes, to death’s other
    Remember us–if at all–not as lost
    Violent souls, but only
    As the hollow men
    The stuffed men.

  • Altermego, where did I say I don’t act as the situation requires? What on earth do you know about me? Your assumptions about what other people do or don’t feel or do are utterly unsupported and unsupportable. You’re strutting your ego out here on Guy’s blog for whatever self-aggrandizement you’re getting from it, making accusations about other peoples’ motives and feelings that have no grounding in fact or, frankly, in sanity. Why was it people brushed you off for 16 months again?

    When you give others’ views some respect, you generally get some respect in return. When you don’t, then others are likely to tell you to go fuck yourself.

  • This is also the first time I’ve been accused of “nihilistic defeatism” by someone who says they plan to eat a gun because things are just too hard here. The irony was delicious! Thanks :-)

  • navid, haha thank you very much, but no, I’m just scrambling to catch up with the more advanced thinkers!

    We thought it would help if we’d rant,
    But results are remarkably scant:
    By changing our fate,
    We could do something great,
    But now it appears that we can’t.

  • where did I say I don’t act as the situation requires?

    Bodhiji, not everyone has the discernmen that comes with grokking the saying
    “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water”. 

  • Thank you Robin. I realized on the bus home that Altermego appears here as my mirror. The anger, the contempt, the determined contraction are all qualities I carry in myself.

  • I don’t usually post here, but I’ve had a glass of wine or two and I’m despondent for all we’ve lost and are losing after a trip out West to see our national parks followed by a return to a devastated landscape, one blighted by drought and incredible sustained heat. My heart is heavy right now. I was thinking though about our options for climate change solutions, if there are any, and I came upon the story about the scientists doing small scale, and possibly successful, geoengineering trials with iron to remove carbon. While reading the article my mind wandered to the current situation with Syria, Israel, and Iran and it occurred to me that geoengineering schemes, in addition to being incredibly dangerous and unproven technologies, are also creating a weapon of unimaginable power, one possibly worse, or at least as bad as, thermonuclear weapons. The other side of the same coin is that there is no person, no group of persons, no reasonable governing structure for a power of that magnitude. There is no one who can give consent for such schemes, no one who should ever have the trust to run such a scheme, and no way such a scheme could ever be secure enough.

    And then I look out at my vegetable garden, the dried cornstalks lining the road endlessly, the droopy soy plants. I remember the searing 100 degree heat from today, the beautifully warm and pleasant March, the crisp, but not cold, January and I realize, again: we’re too late. There is no time, no hope, no future other than eternal heat and death. The so-called developed nations will create geoengineering infrastructure because they will not and cannot do anything else at this point. Even if they could manage a massive carbon reduction, it’s too late. The warming is in the pipeline. We’re at the end of the road, last call. We have destroyed the biosphere with our greed and shortsightedness. We will now build the edifice of our destruction. I’ll keep fighting because it’s my only choice. It’s the only moral path, the only existing route to a good life well lived left to us. But damn is my heart heavy.

  • It’s the only moral path, the only existing route to a good life well lived left to us.

    The Charge of the Light Brigade

    Some one had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:

  • Another Greenland Iceberg fragment bite the dust:

    Why do these articles seem to alwarys compare the size of the iceberg with a North American massive area? There are plenty of other bits of the world to use. Must be that pandering to the intended audience I guess, there is only North America to be concerned about, after all…

  • Some great Hubble photos from just beyond the watershed.

    Just on the watershed thing.

    I think ‘we’ have known a lot further than our own watershed for a long time. How long I don’t know, but I recall a book by an Australian anthropologist who documents trading and mutual marriage and funerary rituals that span the cultures across the Torres Straight, btwn Australia and Papua New Guinea, that is at least 600 years old. Perhaps when we look at the relations of early humans before european colonisation, thier world was not so small.

  • er the book is only 10 years old, its the cultural exchange that’s 600 yo…sorry…

  • Geoengineers…er… wise guys…are going to mess us up a bit more now…

    Can’t stop meddling with their toys.

  • ‘the main theme of this blog that most people cannot or will not see what is right in front of their faces’

    altermego, can u explain your unusual name? just to satisfy my curiosity, please (i love to beg if that’s what it takes lol lol).

    why ‘cut and run’ lol so soon, altermego (my alter ego? lol). i mean, what’s the rush? anything u’d care to discuss?

    i relate with your disgust/despair/horror. we’re all stuck in the same leaky over-crowded life raft with a bunch of loons. loonyness must be in the air or water, don’t u think? but i digress.

    i’m ambivalent myself about living, about sucking at the teat of the evil empire. i’m pretty sure i’m unworthy.

    but why choose to blow your mind to smithereens in a split second? such a messy violent way to go. why not go out on an ultimate high from an opiate o.d.? seems to me a more pleasant trip into the valley of death, and u leave a nicer corpse, no blood and brains to clean up.

    i am concerned for u, altermego. it’s a big decision to make, because it’s the last one u’ll ever make. life is such a mixed blessing at best, and that for some of the most empathetic, very painful. sigh

    sometimes selfishness is rewarded. good for the individual. bad for others outside that individuals close circle of intimates. bad for gaia. bad for all, in the long run.

    ‘For a while I thought it might be amusing to stick around and see how things unfolded but I can’t even stand to live any more in this culture let alone in the unimaginable horror and degradation which faces us all in the very near term.’

    i hate many things about the culture besides the big obvious one. i cope by social withdrawal, a luxury i can currently afford. curtis a. heretic once wrote, to the effect that ‘just keep your head down and don’t let the madness get to u’. works for me. it’s a rather frustrating (to say the least) way to get by, but it is a way. a life of hermetic hedonism ain’t so bad, particularly with internet access that can provide ‘virtual’ companionship like found here.

    as for the last part of your quote, i disagree, unless u have a far more liberal definition of ‘very near term’ in this context than do i. i don’t see collapse proceeding at a near instantaneous pace as some here do. i think it’s going to be convulsive, and i think it’s likely to take time to become dire for many of us (all of us?) currently living relatively securely. i don’t see it happening in less than 10 years short of a black swan event to hasten the process, like nuc war. which is not to say the meantime is going to be a bed of roses, but it will likely allow for tolerable lives for most, imo. as spoiled children of empire, we can lose a lot before losing anything vital.

    ‘I read that the carbon dioxide levels in the arctic hit 400 ppm for the first time recently.’

    susan, this raises the question, do carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere vary somewhat over the globe? this 400ppm report, if accurate, would be about 5 ppm above the most updated figure i’m aware of.

    ‘Any event described in NBL that actually comes to pass should also be considered coincidental, unintentional, and accidental. And pretty damned amazing.’

    good one, guy. amazing, indeed. i like the word ‘surreal’.

    ‘The content of NBL is of a mature nature and is intended for use by those age 18 and over, and of sound mind.’

    is it possible to be of sound mind living in a sea of madness? what exactly is a ‘sound mind’? ok, i’m being a pain in your ass. just reminding everyone we’re all prone to delusions. but i certainly empathize with your point. it’s one thing to create dark art that’s admired and therapeutic to many. it’s quite another to perhaps tip a mind given to despair over the edge. of course, telling the truth causes despair. life at times is ethically fucked up. like the choice between death and despair.

    ‘I’m sure I’m not the only one who is hugely enjoying Life at the End of the World.’

    first off, paul chefurka, i’m a longtime reader and fan. to me u’re a doomer celebrity, although in surreality u’re probably only ‘famous’ to relatively few others, since our brand of science based pessimism is very rare globally. i think it’s cool u’re posting here.

    i wouldn’t say i’m hugely enjoying the end of the world. that seems an absurd reaction to absurd tragedy. it’s the sort of statement that causes me to wonder about how sound your mind is (smile). it’s ok. there is no sane reaction to our insane situation. perhaps suicide is the only sane solution. but hey, what’s the rush? there’s still enjoyment to be had amidst the despair. sometimes even huge enjoyment.

    ‘Are we really a disease? It feels to me like we’re just another critter, with a particular set of qualities. We are neither angels nor demons. We just are.’

    of course! we’re clever stupid apes. it’s hubris to think differently.

  • Hi Kathy,

    I honestly do not know if sapience will turn out to have been helpful or not, or strong enough/too strong, nor if it has had its full impact on us.

    I imagine yelling at someone 17,500 years ago for “carrying those goddamned seeds around.” I wonder if they would tear off my testicles and beat me to a pulp.

    How we experience this is one thing, but what is happening is completely different from what we are experiencing. I’m pretty sure about that.

  • Oz, no meds.

    It really was a great experience – great food, clean everything, fascinating fellow inmates. The staff was great – mostly comedians that didn’t make the big time (joke). It really was one of the best obscure-holiday weekends I’ve ever had, and actually remember.

    I got out by walking. First one foot, then the other. There was no reason I needed to be there – that is why the staff said they were laughing at me, not with me.

  • A world with a thousand Noahs, and Dimitry Orlov is the only one who built an arc.

    This dead heart stuff is not going to be healthy in the long run. Grieve, grieve fully and as long as needed, and be done with it.

    There will be so many people to help, only the ones who have done some preparations, either mental, or logistical or both, will be best able to help. Of course Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver types will emerge from the underbrush. Them not withstanding, others who have already come to some kind of terms with the challenges ahead will be needed greatly. And I don’t only mean to provide a safe haven and an existing vege patch to live off. It will be waves of people, and if Guy is right, there will be a migration to Australia.

    By all means come, the real first peoples of this land will show us all how to get about.
    No one has a full blown answer to this FUBARed situation, but I see no need to dwell on the negatve – for we have deliniated the VERY HUGE NEGATIVE.

    If you have no one to love, and to recieve love from, maybe its time to stick you neck out and find a group of like minded folk who you can assist and become close to?
    There is a story from the Christian tradition that speaks of a life not worth living.
    A man in his old age nears death. This man has been a faithful disciple of Christ, and never strayed from the commandments, gone to church every Sunday, and done many charitable works. He finally dies.
    His soul migrates to towards Heaven, and he comes to a short line before the Pearly Gates. There, he is a bit stiff(pardon the pun), and doesn’t mingle or chat with those waiting. Soon it is his turn and he stands before Saint Peter. Saint Peter looks at the man, who gives his name. Saint Peter looks through the ledger, and after some thought says to the man,”You don’t seem to have any sins to atone for”. With a smug smile the man beams and says with pride,”That’s right, I have not sinned”.
    Saint Peter looks deeply into the man’s eyes as if reading him, and says, “You have no wounds either”. Again the man smiles and agrees. With this Saint Peter grows fierce and bellows,” You mean you never found anything in your long life to get passionate about, to fight for and to risk everything to do? Go back and do it again and live like you mean it.”

    I think there is a fine line between caring too much and getting jaded, and caring enough to continue with the tasks and effort regardless of the consequences nearby that you can see. Pushing oneself to one’s limits exhausts one’s present adaptation, and brings on the need for change. That can only come about with understanding. And understanding can be passed on.

  • Altermego

    “authentic expressions of despair.”

    Yes, that is fine. Just don’t expect all of the people to confuse your despair with reality most of the time.

    But I did like your poem. Good one. Ben, watch out, another jack-ass is competing in your niche!